They represent vastly different industries - insurance and skincare products - but two CEOs have learned to tailor their approach to the Chinese market.
Maurice Greenberg, chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co Inc, who once ran insurance giant AIG - said that his current company had to be highly disciplined with its business in China. He said an insurance company should be "more conservative" and "not try and be something that it's not".
Peter Thomas Roth, CEO at Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care, said that though the company has been doing good business in China - it is an exclusive brand at Sephora in China and made $35 million (240 million yuan) last year - it has faced some regulatory obstacles.
Both men spoke on Monday in Midtown Manhattan at a networking event organized by the Society Entrepreneurs & Ecology Social Finance Program. It was moderated by Jing Li, CEO of JingLiUS, a marketing and investment company.
"We don't try to have a home run overnight; a life insurance company owes a great deal to the people who invest in life insurance. They expect a company to be run properly, [and companies] have an obligation [to do so]," Greenberg said.
C.V. Starr & Co Inc was founded in Shanghai by Cornelius Vander Starr in 1919, the first insurance company established in China.
Greenberg, who still visits China several times a year, said he was most proud of the company's relationships with the Chinese, even if there are disagreements.
"Yes, we have some differences, but I have differences with my wife - I don't divorce her every time we have a difference - and that's the same thing with China, between two countries," he said.
"We'll work out the differences - we have to work out the trade issue; American companies are not having the same opportunities in China - but I think we will. I'm confident we'll work things out," Greenberg said.
Roth said that China has a long registration process, which means products get final approval for the Chinese market some six to 18 months later than customers from other countries do.
China also requires mandatory animal testing on beauty products, which Roth said affects both his company and the country's reputation when it comes to skincare.
"That being said, it's not affecting business, because business is booming," he said. "I love selling to China, we're very happy with our business. We're exclusive to Sephoras in China and we're very happy there."